Madrid

Madrid is one of those cities that I wish someone dragged me to earlier. With 5 million people living there, you immediately get some big-city feel upon arrival. However, unlike Barcelona, Madrid has a somehow very different atmosphere. For one, The people are friendlier and easier to connect with and also generally more stylish.

For each city there’s a city map available that you can simply add to your Google maps and easily find your way around. Here’s the full map

Arriving

Arriving in Madrid is pretty easy, especially within the EU – no additional passport controls, unlike some other EU countries who have recently re-introduced them. The easiest to get into town is via a taxi or an Uber. Like many other cities, there’s a taxi-queue at the airport, but you can easily find your Uber as the arrivals collection section is pretty small.

Getting Around

The city is easy to walk – which is obviously the preferred method to immerse yourself into neighbourhoods. Having said that, the city is quite spread-out, so if you need to get somewhere a little further out for lunch or sights, Uber or public transport are both good, and inexpensive options. Madrid also has city bikes

Eat

Like most southern European places, prepare to have lunch early (12 – 14), as restaurants close early afternoon. Dinner is also normally had late – 9 is a good time if you can’t wait for later, but 10 can be nice if you’re planning a night out in town.

Sala de Despiece

This is a food experience. Book if you like, but half the restaurant is unreserved seating. Expect to queue, but expect amazing food, prepared and served almost as if they’re slick butchers performing in a theatre piece.

Olivia de cuida

A fantastic little café that’s part of the One Shot hotel. The people, the food, the interior – everything is simply on-point.

Café Federal

One of the places rated top for brunch – and unlike many other places with similar ratings in other cities – this one is actually.

La Pescadaría

Great for an excellent selection of seafood – as the name suggests.

Mercado de San Miguel

The original new market for food & drink. Great place for a relaxed bite and drink any time of day.

Ana la Santa

A great restaurant in a slick hotel. Expect a chic set who wants to see and be seen. Excellent food.

El cisne azul

A real hidden local gem. Known for their mushroom dishes, expect to see the deliveries come in and received by the owner and to leave smelling like smoke.

Chocolatería San Ginés

The famous San Gines serves Churros & Chocolate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And expect a queue, whenever you decide to go.

The famous San Ginés is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Drink & Coffee

The Spanish love to eat while they drink. Always something small – stuffed olives, chorizo, hams, cheeses – take your pick.

La Ardosa

Even though this institution is a bar, it’s a “taberna” and in Spain that means it comes with delicious snacks. Be sure to try the frittata which is made really well here.

Corazón

A gastropub with cozy little booths at the bar for intimate late-night philosophising.

ACID Café

Think third wave coffee & acid jazz. A tight selection of very good food to go with this.

 

Shop

Casa Gonzalez & Gonzalez

A curated selection of fantastic homeware products. Great for little gifts.

El Rastro

This area is packed with antique spots and a great Sunday activity. It runs between two of the main streets, start at the bottom and finish with lunch in Cava Baja.

Batavia

This has to be one of the most expansive design shops, not only in Madrid but by international standards. Expect to see all the famous designers represented, but also find some selections of local and found art and design pieces. Also a great spot for after you fell in love with Madrid and bought a place – when you need furniture.

Stay

The Madrid hotel scene is undergoing a revolution. With the new Four Seasons being built, the entire city-center is being overhauled. There are plenty of great hotels in the city, however, because of the massive construction taking place all over, be sure to enquire with the hotel whether they have any nearby work that might ruin your heels when stepping out outside.

Hotel Tótem

This has to be one of my personal favourite hotels. The whole place is considered, where the quiet moments are given as much consideration as the simple light switches and deft design touches. For a romantic weekend away, book one of the corner junior suites and feel like you’re stepping right into a film. Situated in the upmarket neighbourhood of Salamanca.

Hotel Urso

Urso is a great option is you’re looking for something central with a contemporary take on grandeur and a spa for some repose in the basement. The staff here are excellent, friendly and helpful.

H10 Villa de la Reina

If you want to stay right in the middle of everything and love masses of people, the Gran Via is really where it’s at. This hotel is an affordable and easy option.

One Shot Fortuny

This new addition to the Madrid hotel scene is a great contemporary design take with a strong art & photography focus in the group. The rooms are spacious, with great linen, calm yet colourful interiors and pretty quiet. Be sure to also try the café, Olivia te Cuida even if you just happen to be in the area.

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